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JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL HYDROLOGY

The Electronic Journal of the International Association for Environmental Hydrology On the World Wide Web at http://www.hydroweb.com
VOLUME 12 2004

WATER BALANCE AND LANDSCAPE DEGRADATION OF AN UNGAUGED MOUNTAIN WATERSHED: CASE STUDY OF THE PICO DE TANCITARO NATIONAL PARK, MICHOACAN, MEXICO

José de Jesús A. Fuentes Junco1 Miguel Bravo Espinosa2 Gerardo Bocco V.1

Laboratorio de Geoecología, CIECO-UNAM Morelia, Michoacan, México 2 CENAPROS-INIFAP, Morelia, Michoacan, México
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Water balance and its relation to land degradation were investigated by using a spatially distributed model and geographic information system (GIS) in the Pico de Tancitaro National Park, Michoacan, Mexico. The water balance components were defined through monthly climatic data and soil characteristics using ILWIS (Integrated Land and Water Information System) capabilities for the display and manipulation of GIS data. The deficit of water was compared with the potential degradation of the landscape in order to show their relationship. The study shows, in a preliminary way, that land degradation threatens the quantity of water in the Tancitaro National Park. The demand for water has also been increasing to such an extent that it soon will exceed the renewable water supply that can be used economically.

Journal of Environmental Hydrology

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Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004

Feoli et al. Verstappen and Van Zuidam. and land use (Wang and Takahashi. and (2) what kind of relationships exist between water deficit and potential degradation of the landscape? The purposes of this study are twofold. 1981. The landscape is a volcanic relief in which the most recent volcano is the 59-yr old Paricutin. 2001). a GIS can be employed in conjunction with a spatially distributed water balance model to assess the availability of water and potential areas of landscape degradation. 2002). 1983. Mendoza et al. Both qualitative and quantitative geomorphologic variables have been considered for decades (Goudie et al. 2001). 1995. Vandewiele et al. thus. 1998. INTRODUCTION Forest cover helps maintain clean water supplies by filtering freshwater. The spatial variability and the diversity of factors that degrade an ecosystem make it difficult to precisely determine relationships. Mexico Fuentes.. which has been declared a priority zone for conservation (CONABIO. and the second is to establish the patterns of potential degradation of the Tancitaro National Park and its relationship to water balance. The main questions that guided this investigation were: (1) what is the annual production of surface water in the Pico de Tancitaro National Park. 1991. Leopold et al. The “Pico de Tancitaro” includes the “Pico de Tancitaro” National Park. STUDY AREA The study area (580 km 2) is located in the western part of Michoacan State (Figure 1). This is the case of the Pico de Tancitaro located in Michoacan. 1999. 1998). 2000. soil. Metternicht. 2002). Michoacan. 1999). The analysis of the potential for landscape degradation has been addressed by interrelating slope. 1995). Hudak et al. In general. 1978.. Goudie et al. In areas of sparse data. in the Neovolcanic Belt. many applications of GIS and remote sensing techniques have been proposed for landscape degradation. Bravo and Bocco. Annual rainfall is about 1000 mm... 1999. and a number of monogenetic volcanoes surround the stratovolcano (Garduño-Monroy et al. Deforestation undermines these processes by degrading the quantity and quality of water supplies (Mulligan. in which there are not enough data on water resources. Ollinger et al. several examples of estimates of water balance have been performed in ungauged basins (Vandewiele and Elias.. Elevation ranges from 1300 to 3860 m and the climate is temperate. Scattolin. Terrain analysis basically allows one to recognize the land units in which a water balance can be computed. 1991.... Sanjay et al. One of the most frequent problems in developing countries that face degradation assessment is the insufficient and sparse data. from which 80 Journal of Environmental Hydrology 2 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . Bergkamp. however. Xu. it is possible to find tendencies in their relations. 1999... Also. zones with deficit or surplus of water can be spatialized. 1981).Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. Slope analysis (terrain analysis) has been widely used to understand the dynamics in a watershed (Verstappen. and reducing soil erosion and sedimentation. Flores and Gerez. 1996. The first one is to describe the calculation of a water balance through analytical tools available in a geographic information system. In recent years. 1996.. A number of authors have carried out similar works about water balance estimates where a GIS plays an important role (Beek. and the oldest formation originated 500 thousand years ago. The geology is dominated by andesitic and basaltic rocks. although it is clear that new methodologies and algorithms are required for developing countries (Cangir et al. 1994). soil erosion is the most widely recognized and most common form of land degradation (Wischmeier and Smith. 1998. Mexico. 1996).

grasses and forest have been removed to establish avocado plantations. Subsistence crops. Fuentes. Mexico Fuentes. bean crops and avocado plantations.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. The area sustains more than 40. which includes moisture inputs of rainfall and moisture outputs of runoff and evapotranspiration.. silver-tree forest. maize. percent is concentrated in the rainy season (May to October). due the avocado introduction. evergreen oak-pine forest. which have grown to occupy almost 37 percent of the area in less than 30 years (Bocco et al.000 inhabitants. cloud forest. secondary vegetation. 1999. 1999. México. pineevergreen oak forest. Bravo and Bocco. 2000). Michoacan. most of them indigenous. Intensive land use changes characterize the region since 1970. República Mexicana Michoacán 2160000 2150000 2140000 770000 780000 790000 UTM Coordinates Clarke Ellipsoid 1866 Basins National Park Figure 1. Michoacán. The relation is expressed by: Q=P-E-∆S where: Q = Total runoff (mm) P = Total precipitation (mm) E = Total evapotranspiration (mm) ∆S = Change in soil storage (mm) Journal of Environmental Hydrology (1) 3 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . induced grasses. Torres and Bocco. Location of Pico de Tancítaro and its watersheds. METHOD The method for calculating the water balance is similar to that developed by Thornthwaite and Matter (1955). Vegetation consists of pine forest.

1985). Equations Used to Obtain the Water Balance Components Component Equation Author Potential Evapotranspiration PEt m= (0. García. Table 1.000 scale (Fuentes. Table 2). and maps at a 1:50. assuming similar conditions of minimum natural storage (Gregory and Walling. rock and soil types (FAO’s classification). Each one of the 12 maps obtained for both variables was corrected by altitude (Agricultural Compendium. Geography and Informatics of Mexico (INEGI by its acronym in Spanish). slope maps were derived for each of the 16 sub-catchments.000 scale were digitized from analog maps produced by the National Institute of Statistics. 2000).16*(Tm)0.S(a)m+ S(a)month-1 Beek (1996) (6) where: Petm = Potential evapotranspiration (mm) RS T = Solar radiation in equivalent units of evaporation (mm/day-1) = Temperature (0C) S(a)m =Actual soil moisture storage of current month (mm) S(a)month-1= Actual soil moisture storage of previous month (mm) P(ef)m=Effective precipitation (mm) Eta =Actual evapotranspiration (mm) Land variables Elevation. Mexico Fuentes. Journal of Environmental Hydrology 4 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . Michoacan. 1999). A digital elevation model was created from the topographic map. To estimate the components of the water balance the relations given by Beek (1996) and Serruto (1993) were used (Table 1). Soil stoniness and soil texture maps were derived from INEGI’s soil maps and from soil surveys as attribute maps. Temperature and precipitation maps were created by using the linear interpolation method that gives better estimation of rainfall surfaces than the Thiessen polygons in mountainous areas (ITC. For periods shorter than a year. A geographic information system (ILWIS. The water balance is usually used for long periods of time. digitization.5+0.88)*31 Serruto (1993) (2) Actual soil moisture storage S(a)m= (P(ef)m+S(a)month-1)-PEt m Beek (1996) (3) Actual Evapotranspiration Eta=P(ef)+S(a)month-1 Beek (1996) (4) Water Deficit WD=PEt m-(P(ef)m+S(a)month-1 ) Beek (1996) (5) Surplus Water SW=P(ef)m-Etam.003*(RS)2. 1981. the evaluation requires extra care and precision for computing every component. Temperature and precipitation The primary data sources for temperature and rainfall analyses were the monthly mean values from 13 meteorological station records covering the period from 1970 to 1985 (Figure 3.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. 1984). and ortho-rectification of aerial photography at a 1:50. The landform map and land use cover (Figure 2) was obtained through geomorphologic photo-interpretation. Bravo and Bocco. 1997) was used throughout the entire procedure.

Watersheds Chuanito Chondo Cutio Hoyicazuela Apo Barranca Rodada Tancítaro Zirimóndiro El Chivo La Gringa La Culebra Zacándaro Huandiestacato San Francisco 2160000 1 3 14 13 2160000 4 2150000 2 2150000 5 6 12 7 8 9 10 11 2140000 2140000 UTM Coordinates Clarke Ellipsoid 1866 DATUM. 2. Mexico Fuentes. Bravo and Bocco. open vegetation Crops No vegetation Basin borders National Park 1. NAD 27 8 1 2104431 740798 7 75 78 81 2104431 826272 Figure 3. Meteorological station map. 5. 740798 2180981 10 75 78 81 826272 2180981 Legend 1. 8. 11. 11. dense vegetation Shrubs Grass. Apatzingán Charapendo Jicalán Chorros del Varal Los Limones Los Reyes Nueva Italia Parácuaro Peribán Punta de Agua Taretan Uruapan Tancítaro 6 5 16 9 4 16 13 12 3 11 2 13 UTM Coordinates 13 Clarke Ellipsoid 1866 DATUM. NAD 27 770000 780000 790000 Land Cover Map Figure 2. 9. 9. 3. 10. 6. 7. 5. 13. 8. 4. 7. Michoacan. 14. 10.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. 3. 12. 4. 2. 13. Land cover map (source: photo interpretation). 770000 780000 790000 LEGEND Forest. 12. 6. Journal of Environmental Hydrology 5 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 .

3 22.8 4. Runoff and effective rainfall Runoff estimation was derived from reclassified maps of infiltration. Charapendo 1000 1196. For this reason it is highly recommended to evaluate the soil moisture storage directly in the field. However. texture and stoniness maps were generated from soils maps published by INEGI. to keep in mind that soil layers with variations in texture. The procedure consisted of creating a two-dimensional table.8 10. Available rainfall was the difference between precipitation and runoff on a monthly basis. 1999). in Thirteen Stations Inside and Bordering the Study Area Station Altitude P T Station Altitude P T 1. and direct field measurements. Punta de agua 279 686.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. it is necessary to reflect monthly moisture variations considering that the previous month could store water if rainfall was more than normal.9 11.3 7. using the data values given by the Soil Conservation Service (1964). The water stored in the soil is the source that might be available for evapotranspiration (Beek. Table 2. Bravo and Bocco.7 20.2 25. Based on those data. each reclassified map was multiplied by each monthly precipitation map to finally create a monthly runoff map. Actual soil moisture storage (S(a)m) The actual soil moisture storage varies in time according to the inputs (effective precipitation) and outputs (e). Jicalán 1610 1502. the soil moisture storage. the average monthly temperature and the solar radiation were adjusted according to latitude values (FAO. Los Reyes 1280 860. Apatzingan 320 836 27. etc.7 2.9 12. slope. 1996. Uruapan 1610 1584. for the following month there could Journal of Environmental Hydrology 6 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . assuming a root penetration depth of 100 cm. and vegetation values were constant through the year. slope and vegetation. Taretan 1170 1165. Chorros del Varal 1225 946. These values were used to determine the real storage values for the first month of the water balance.. depth. or that of Penman (FAO. Paracuaro 498 1003.7 3. 1976). porosity.5 26. Nueva Italia 460 705. To do this it was assumed that infiltration rate.2 19. affect the water movement and therefore. Maximum soil moisture storage When rainfall penetrates the soil. This formula was selected for its simplicity and efficiency instead of the Blaney and Criddle (FAO. Mexico Fuentes. the one of Thornthwaite and Mather (1955). soil moisture content varies according to soil texture and stoniness as shown by Landon (1984). however. at 1:50000 scale. 1976).7 13. then. Periban 1630 1255.3 5.4 8.7 22. As mentioned above. whose values were expressed as percentages.5 8.9 20. In this study the data values obtained by Landon were used.8 17. Tancítaro 3800 910. Los Limones 1225 1042. 1976). which allows one to obtain reclassification values. Afterwards.8 19.2 23.6 9. Serruto’s formula calculates the potential evapotranspiration according with Equation 2 (Table 1).3 Potential Evapotranspiration (Pet) Pet was calculated on the basis of the equation of Serruto (1993). a portion of it is stored in the pore spaces. soil maps were reclassified and crossed through a two-dimensional table in which the Landon values were assigned. Thus. Temperature (T) and Precipitation (P) Mean Values.5 6. Michoacan. while the remainder drains downward. Birkeland.4 27. It is necessary.

13. Eta=Pet. Monthly surplus water (SW) When the effective rainfall is higher than evapotranspiration. 2. Journal of Environmental Hydrology 7 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . Monthly water deficit (WD) Water deficit occurs when the evapotranspiration is higher than the effective precipitation (Morales and Saavedra. The actual evapotranspiration was calculated by Equation 4 (Table 1). 14. The calculations began in June. 1996). 8. Water deficit in the Tancítaro Region. otherwise Eta<Pet. If there is enough water to evaporate. Annual water balance Monthly deficit maps are added together to obtain an annual deficit map. 7. These maps were reclassified in several classes in order to 770000 780000 790000 LEGEND Deficit in millimeters 0-300 300-600 600-900 900-1200 1200-1500 Basin borders National Park Watersheds Chuanito Chondo Cutio Hoyicazuela Apo Barranca Rodada Tancítaro Zirimóndiro El Chivo La Gringa La Culebra Zacándaro Huandiestacato San Francisco 2160000 1 3 14 13 2160000 4 2150000 2 2150000 5 6 8 11 9 10 12 2140000 7 2140000 1. Bravo and Bocco. Evapotranspiration has an opposite effect and it becomes critical if the effective precipitation has diminished or its contribution is zero. The water deficit was calculated by means of Equation 5 (Table 1). Mexico Fuentes. The actual storage was calculated by Equation 3 (Table 1) utilizing the maximum storage capacity as was mentioned above. Twelve maps of surplus water were obtained. 5. effective precipitation and potential evapotranspiration of previous month. 1998. NAD27 Water Deficit Map Table 4. 9. June is the first rainy month. be some water storage in the soil. 10. and for every month a map was made. 6. an excess of water occurs because the soil water content increases to the maximum storage capacity. The same is done for monthly surplus maps (Figures 4 and 5). UTM Coordinates 770000 780000 790000 Clarke Ellipsoid 1866 Datum. Actual Evapotranspiration (Eta) We describe actual evapotranspiration as the quantity that plants and bare soil really evaporate. 3.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. In this case. 4. Michoacan. 12. The actual evapotranspiration depends on storage. The water surplus was calculated using Equation 6 (Table 1). Beek. 11. The calculations are started after the dry season (when P>Eta) at the month that presented soil moisture.

c) advanced degradation. San Francisco UTM Coordinates Clarke Ellipsoid 1866 Datum. low (300-600 mm) and very low (0-300 mm). Chondo 3. high (900-1200 mm). moderate (600-900 mm). Zirimóndiro 9. Barranca Rodada 7. Michoacan. high (210-280 mm). Tancítaro 8. And water surplus: very high (280-350 mm). Zacándaro 13. b) incipient degradation. Hoyicazuela 5. the presence of gully erosion. At higher altitude there is less degradation. and slope and soil erosion susceptibility.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. Water deficit classes include: very high (1200-1500 mm). The spatial dynamics of the degradation is similar to the dynamics observed in the surplus and deficit water. Huandiestacato 14. Areas were identified with poor vegetation cover. and e) conservation zone (Figure 6). this pattern changes at 3000 m due to natural conditions such as fragile and superficial soils. digitization. This step was calibrated through verification points in order to obtain five classes of potential degradation: a) no apparent degradation. Apo 6. Degradation map This map was obtained by means of photo-interpretation. LEGEND Surplus in millimeters 0 1-70 70-140 140-210 210-280 280-350 Basin borders National Park Watersheds 1. be clear. and open forest. Cutio 4. and ortho-rectification of aerial photography at a 1:50 000 scale. Water surplus in the Tancítaro Region. In order to analyze degradation and water balance relationships. a second step was to compare degradation with deficit and surplus water values for the whole region. b) moderate degradation. However. A theoretical model of potential degradation was obtained from the degradation map (Figure 7). NAD27 Water Surplus Map Figure 5. Journal of Environmental Hydrology 8 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . El Chivo 10. d) severe degradation. La Culebra 12. La Gringa 11. very low (1-70 mm) and no surplus (0 mm). Mexico Fuentes. Chuanito 2. moderate (140-210 mm). low (71-140 mm). Bravo and Bocco. a first step was to compare runoff with degradation data per basin.

NAD27 2160000 2160000 4 2150000 2 2150000 5 6 12 7 8 9 10 11 2140000 2140000 770000 780000 790000 Figure 6. Bravo and Bocco. Process degradation model of Pico de Tancítaro + 3800 3600 3400 Degradation level More sensitive landscapes - + Open forest (<80%) Degradation level Slopes increase Height ( masl ) 3200 3000 2800 2600 2400 2200 2000 1800 1600 1400 1200 10 nd e la Th nd na atio pul . El Chivo 10. Journal of Environmental Hydrology 9 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . 770000 780000 790000 Potential Degradation Map LEGEND Degradation types 1 13 3 14 Conservation zones No apparent degradation Incipient degradation Moderate degradation Advanced degradation Severe degradation Urban zones Basin borders National Park Watersheds 1. Barranca Rodada 7. Michoacan. po use Slopes diminish Fragile and shallow soils Hardy landscapes to degradation ase cre s in ie ivit act mic no eco Closed forest (>80%) Deep soils + 20 30 Distance (km) Figure 7. Tancítaro 8. Zacándaro 13. Chondo 3. Apo 6. Huandiestacato 14. Mexico Fuentes. La Culebra 12. Zirimóndiro 9. Chuanito 2. Descriptive model of potential degradation in the Tancítaro Region. Cutio 4.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. San Francisco UTM Coordinates Clarke Ellipsoid 1866 Datum. Hoyicazuela 5. La Gringa 11. Potential degradation in the Tancítaro Region.

4 53. Michoacan. the Pico de Tancitaro National Park had a negative water balance.6 44. In general.3 474.9 Land degradation (%) 64.7 66. On the contrary. a tendency is observed in Figures 8 and 9 in which water deficit is related to landscape degradation.2 18. values of water deficit increase at lower altitude. This should be Journal of Environmental Hydrology 10 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . which demand excessive water for avocado plantations.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. The former basins had high runoff values and poor vegetal cover.2 54.5 76.6 44. In the first map. Natural Cover. Land Degradation.3 Relation between water resources and land degradation Generally speaking.0 488.8 405.5 39.3 56. Chondo and Rodada basins). It is also necessary to indicate that the applied model is empirical and includes assumptions that should be tested under local field conditions. and Runoff Comparison by Basins Watershed Apo Chondo Chuanito Cuenca Rodada Cutio El Chivo Hoyicazuela Huandiestacato La Culebra La Gringa San Francisco Tancítaro Zacándaro Zirimóndiro Natural cover (%) 56. Runoff and degradation Table 4 shows runoff estimates per basin.4 609.8 539. San Francisco and Chondo basins present a good natural cover and larger surface with no apparent degradation. and a large degradation tendency (such as Cutio. Table 4.2 15. because of better vegetal cover.6 60.2 42. It seems that the use of models in ungauged basins makes it possible to discover.7 477.1 453.8 573.3 49.1 563.1 51.1 59. Bravo and Bocco.5 576. In the second map.8 64. CONCLUSIONS The study area presents a water deficit character.7 615. the areas with evident degradation are linked to the zones with high deficits of water.9 42.1 46.4 66.6 399. The higher runoff values correspond to Chuanito and Chivo basins and the lowest values to San Francisco and Chondo basins.2 18.7 60.7 68. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Deficit and surplus water Figures 4 and 5 show the deficit and surplus water maps. The areas with vegetation cover yield enough water to supply the lower areas. some trends in the status of natural resources. because of intensive land use for avocado plantations. this study has made it possible to establish a profile of the relationships between the availability of the hydrological resource and landform degradation in the Tancitaro National Park.0 31. According to UNESCO (1999).9 36.7 57. Mexico Fuentes.4 50.9 493. this condition is normal for Mexico.8 Runoff (mm) 483. at least in a preliminary way. the spatial pattern of surplus water increases with altitude. Observing both surplus and deficit water maps. In spite of this.

0 50.0 70.0 ZC ND ID MD AD SD 0-No surplus 1-Very low 2-Low 3-Moderate 4-High 5-Very high ZC: Conservation zone. SD: Severe degradation Figure 8. Mankind depends on ecosystems to sustain it.0 20. An equally important effort is needed to motivate local communities and individuals to adopt an ecosystems approach to managing this valuable environment. MD:Moderate degradation. SD : Severe degradation Figure 9.0 80. It seems that the demand of water has been increased to such an extent that it soon will exceed the renewable water supply. ID: Incipient degradation. Bravo and Bocco. ND: No apparent degradation. This observation is based on the large diversions of surface water.0 30. considered as a preliminary conclusion and therefore should be taken with caution.0 60. in turn. but the sustainability of the ecosystems depends. ND: No apparent degradation.0 0. In practice.Landscape Degradation of a Mountain Watershed. The National Park should be mainly preserved to insure its hydrologic role: provide the basic goods and essential natural functions such as air and water filtering.0 10. on human care. AD: Advanced degradation. Michoacan. but also a reorientation of our usual extractive approach.0 40. MD:Moderate degradation. Potential land degrad ation vs Deficit water S urfa ce (%) 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 ZC ND ID MD AD SD 1-Low 2-Moderate 3-High 4-Very high ZC: Conservation zone. Mexico Fuentes.0 (% ) 90. Potential land degradation vs surplus of water. Potential land degradation vs deficit of water. Journal of Environmental Hydrology 11 Volume 12 Paper 5 March 2004 . Potential land degradation vs Surplus water Surface 100. ID: Incipient degradation. AD: Advanced degradation. particularly for avocado irrigation. this requires not only understanding of the complexity and resilience of the ecosystem.

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